For Cops, By Cops: VIEVU Body-worn cameras
By PoliceOne Staff
Business Name: VIEVU
Officer(s) who work here:
• Steve Ward, President & Founder, Former Seattle PD
• Heidi Traverso, Sales, Former Seattle PD
• Joe Pioli, Sales, Seattle PD
• Gary Carter, Sales, Retired Oklahoma PD
• Ken Bernardi, Sales, Retired Shepherdsville (Ky.) PD
• Steve Lovell, Managing Director, Oakland (Calif.) PD
Location: Seattle, Wash.
VIEVU makes body-worn video cameras for cops. As big supporters of law enforcement, most of the staff are retired cops or current law enforcement officers. VIEVU was founded and is led by Steve Ward, formerly of the Seattle Police Department, who answers some questions about VIEVU below.
How did you come up with the idea for VIEVU cameras? I worked for the Seattle Police Department for almost 15 years. You know the drill. Patrol, Mountain Bikes, FTO, and finally SWAT. During that time, I had my share of complaints from defense attorneys who try to cast a shadow on you for the trial. We’ve all had these. They take months to resolve, cost a lot of money and annoyingly stay on your record. What happens if you get several in a year? Are you branded a “problem officer”?" Yes. Was I a problem officer? I simply worked, but the more work you do, the more complaints you get. We’re not picking daisies after all.
How do your cameras tell the officer’s side of the story? Today, we have body-worn video cameras. They capture everything an officer does. Most officers do the right thing most of the time, and these cameras are a way to prove it! In fact, the IACP says that video evidence clears officers from a complaint over 93 percent of the time. Essentially, it acts as a witness that proves what you did was reasonable, justifiable, and resulted in outstanding police work.
How do the suspects usually feel when they find out an officer is equipped with one? Fifty percent of complaints are dropped immediately when the suspect is told there is video evidence of the incident. The criminals causing us this heartache are finished. No more, "she said, she said." We can prove what happened right now. Not six months from now — right now.
Where did the idea come from? I had the opportunity to ride police mountain bikes in Seattle for three years. I went to a mountain bike “training” class in Sun Valley Idaho. A magazine photographer rode with us for an entire night and put his camera around my neck while I rode. The camera took a ton of pictures automatically, and I realized at the end of the ride that I had just made a movie. At the time, in-car cameras were just catching on, and the idea was born. Putting the camera on the officer will catch more than just what happens in front of the car.
What happened next? It’s been four-and-a-half years since then. We’ve had our cameras used by more than 2000 police agencies. I think of it as a win for everyone involved, because the cops are protected, the agency has liability protection, and the community gets to see what really happens in the average day of working the street, not just what is reported in the paper or seen in an edited video clip taken by a cell phone.
What is your signature product? VIEVU’s signature product is the PVR-LE2. It records four hours of video, is easily downloaded via our VERIPATROL software, rugged and waterproof. The videos can be stored as long as you wish.
How can an officer or agency try a VIEVU camera? All you have to do is visit our website and sign up for a free 30 day trial.
What does the future hold for VIEVU? We’re going to keep doing what we love: protecting cops. We make a product that keeps them safe from the bureaucratic nonsense. It helps against complaints; it helps in court, it just plain helps. We won’t rest until all cops have access to our products.